The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

It’s Wednesday, March 8th, 2023.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.


Part I

If You Want to Reach the Next Generation, Target the Young: Why the Schools Are the Hot Spot of Controversy

Wherever you go, almost anywhere in the world, but in particular wherever you go in the United States, you are likely to find controversies over the schools. And one of the things I want us to think about on The Briefing today is why that is the case and why we need to pay some really close and very special attention to the controversies that emerge from the schools.

Now today I am in Phoenix, Arizona, and on the front page of the Arizona Republic, that’s the major newspaper in Phoenix, we find a headline news story above the fold, “New rules sought for Arizona schools,” the subhead, “Lawmakers take deep dive in class operations.” Mary Jo Pitzl is the reporter for the Arizona Republic, which is also a part of USA Today Network. So some of you may see this article in a USA Today affiliated local newspaper. But this is dateline from Arizona and what it’s telling us is that the legislature here in Arizona is taking up consideration of new laws concerning what is and is not to be taught in the public schools in Arizona also who can and can’t use certain facilities such as restrooms in Arizona schools.

Now just about anywhere you go in the country, you’re going to find similar news stories. This one’s interesting, even the headline of course grabs our attention, especially with that subhead, “Lawmakers take deep dive in class operations.” Now that does mean something has changed. And so as you look at that subhead in the article about legislators taking a deep dive in class operations, the reason why a newspaper would say that is because if you were to go back, just say a couple of decades in American history, you would find that most state legislators basically trusted those they defined as educational professionals to come up with the rules and the policies in the school system.

But there is a very good reason now why citizens, and as we’re going to see, that’s pretty much across the board in communities, citizens now want to have a say in making these decisions and establishing policies and also in establishing the curricula that actually will be taught or not taught by certain requirements and policies in the public schools. So this deep dive in class operations is something you’re likely to see in just about any state. But wait just a minute. As you look state by state through all 50 states, some of those states are solidly blue, some of those states are solidly red. Now that means some are very, very conservative and some are very, very liberal. Now you can put that into a party structure with red meaning Republican and blue meaning Democrat.

But the fact is that if you go to a state like say New York or New Jersey, very blue in terms of ideology, you’re going to find less of this kind of headline. The same thing is true if you go to some conservative states, say Mississippi or Alabama, just to take two, this kind of news makes a particularly strong news statement and it makes for a particularly high controversy in a state like Arizona, which frankly can go either way in national elections, a so-called swing state. And so you can understand that geography does make a difference. That’s a Christian worldview principle we try to remind ourselves of. Geography does make a difference. That’s going to come up in other aspects of The Briefing today.

Here’s how the Arizona Republic article for yesterday began, “Arizona lawmakers want to reach deep into classroom operations with proposals to require the recitation of the pledge of allegiance to designate which students can use which bathrooms and once again to limit how race and ethnicity are taught.” Now, here’s where I just want to remind us of a test. A test I often suggest on The Briefing and it’s just say the one decade, two decade test. If you were to rewind history a decade, would that lead paragraph even make any sense? What does it mean that you have legislators who are actively engaged in some form of argument about who should use which bathroom?

We may be increasingly accustomed to seeing that kind of headline news story or hearing that kind of debate, but we shouldn’t lose the sense of shock that this is being discussed in the first place. And by the way, that doesn’t just mean a contrast between say America or Arizona in 2023 as compared with 2003 or 1983. It also means a contrast with our society in 2023 and virtually any moment in recorded human history going all the way back to the beginning of recorded history itself.

When you’re looking at this, you recognize there is no society in all of human history that is ever evidenced this kind of confusion. And this is where Christians also understand something else. This is a contrived confusion. It is a socially constructed confusion. This is not actually a biological confusion. And so here’s where we understand this really does turn out to be a big story, and the Arizona Republic understands that, puts it on the front page, but there’s something else here. And that’s the insinuation that legislators who want to take this kind of deep dive into these issues are probably going where they don’t belong. And this is something else we need to watch. You have the people in modern America who are largely in control of many different dimensions. One of the dimensions of that control is the professions and education has been increasingly defined as a profession.

The status of the professions in the United States of America is that the professions are accountable only internally, not externally. And so that came up for instance with the profession of medicine. Who should judge whether doctors are good doctors? The argument made for the emergence of professions is other doctors should make that determination. You don’t want a medical non-professional deciding who isn’t is not a good doctor. Here’s where we have to note. Now, however, we’re in a situation in which the practice of medicine isn’t entirely medical. It is also increasingly ideological in so many ways.

But when educators became a profession, increasingly what you see is what’s insinuated and actually comes out from so many people. And that is that parents should have no say in this. Who are they after all, they’re not professionals. And when it comes to legislators, they should also keep out of these kinds of issues and leave it to the school’s systems.

And so a part of what we see here is that this story’s front page news in part because the powers that be don’t want the public to have much to do with this at all. And that tells you that some kind of tipping point has been reached in society where a significant number of citizens and parents are saying, “We are not just going to turn this over to the so-called professionals.” And by the way, when you’re talking about education, here’s where we also need to understand something. The professions develop themselves and reinforce themselves with massive social power, licensure, all kinds of peer review and all the rest. But something else is also at stake. And that is that if you want to bring change in society, well you understand how society works, you want to bring change to the professions, the most important way you bring that about is in control of the professional schools.

And that’s why as you look at the education schools writ large across the United States, they tend to be not only liberal and progressive, but incredibly liberal and progressive. Something else we need to note in this article is this kind of language, “Many of those bills are targeted at LGBTQ students in line with similar GOP sponsored legislation in other states. For example, Senate Bill 1040 requires public schools to provide students who are unwilling or unable to use a group bathroom access to a private bathroom.”

The story continues, “It’s a version of the bathroom bill that Senator John Kavanagh has promoted off and on for years, fueled by concerns on how to provide for students who identify as a gender different than the sex they were assigned at birth.” Now you just look at this and you recognize, once again, how would you even make sense of this to someone in a previous generation or even to yourself to say something like a decade ago?

And one of the things that Christians need to note here is not just that this is a revolt against creation order, but it’s coming with a velocity, this unprecedented human history. And so the experience of this kind of very rapid social change is something that causes all kinds of disequilibrium. There are many people who simply can’t imagine that these stories are even real, but we’ve talked about some similar developments elsewhere.

But here in Arizona, there is something in this Arizona Republic news story that I have never seen exactly like this before. And this is a statement made by a legislator on the other side of the aisle who is saying, well, it all comes down to whether or not students are open-minded or not. Senator Christine Marsh of Phoenix identified also as a public school teacher told the paper it’s much ado about not much.

According to this legislator who’s also a public school teacher, and I’m reading from the article, “Most students are open-minded and aren’t bothered by students who are transgender.” Okay, I just want us to note what happened with the language there. And I have not seen it in exactly this form in this kind of context. Here you have a legislator who just doesn’t mince words, who actually comes out and says, “Most students are open-minded.” And what open-minded in this case means is you really don’t care who’s in the bathroom with you.

Now, I don’t know if there’s any verifiable statistic on how many students feel in what way on this issue. I’ll simply say that what you have here is a rather Orwellian use of language, which is something else we need to note, where open-minded means one thing. Open-minded doesn’t mean open to discovering truth. Open-minded doesn’t mean not being judgmental ahead of knowing the facts.

In this case, the facts are well understood, the situation is well understood. Open-minded means you are joining the progressive wave in the society and you’re willing to overlook creation order and all the rest. But there’s something else and that is that you are experimenting with children. That’s what you’re doing. It’s a vast social experiment and children are like the lab rats in this.

But there’s also the insinuation in this legislator’s comments that it’s something that students are basically okay with. It’s those older people like parents who actually are the obstacles to social progress here. The article just tells us more and more about what’s being debated. And of course there are curriculum debates here as well. I start again just by saying this is indicative of the fact that just about everyone understands that what is taught in the schools is of great consequence. Every single civilization has found its way into understanding that the education of children, teenagers, and young people has a very great deal to do with the future of the civilization.

And if you want to reach persons with an ideological agenda, well, you want to get as young as possible and have as much control as possible. And this is where you understand that the Nazis were very effective at this. They understood you control the schools, you create the Hitler youth. The same thing was true in the Soviet Union. The Bolsheviks produced a very clear agenda for the schools using the schools as a way. And remember, the communists were very, very clear about this and that was getting between parents and their children.

On The Briefing previously, I mentioned a dissertation that was done by a very prominent Russian intellectual who argued that the greatest impediment to the Bolshevik revolution running its full course in Russia was not even parents, but grandparents. This particular intellectual said, “Grandparents, well, they have an inordinate influence on their grandchildren and it tends to be a conservative protective influence.”

It also, and this turns out to be very much a part of what happened in Russia, the grandparents are far more likely to be rooted in an explicit commitment to Christianity. And that’s at least a part of what this particular Soviet regime wanted to overcome. Well, you look at this, and I’m not going to go further into the details it has to do in this article and in the controversies going on in Arizona with the local politics, that’s very much a part of the picture. But what is instructive for all of us is understanding that focusing on the schools is not dumb. Focusing on the schools is of incredible importance. If you want to reach the generation and shape them that is to come, well, you’re going to go to the schools, you’re going to go to the young. For Christians, this should underline the fact that as the twig is bent, so grows the tree.

And it also should remind us that education is more than cognitive, it’s intuitive, it is emotional. And at least a part of what you see even in this article is the insinuation that a psychologically healthy, wholesome, non-judgmental person doesn’t have any problem whatsoever with biological males in the girls’ room. And as you look at this, you recognize this society has reached some kind of crucial tipping point when this kind of argument is now confronted virtually every day in one place or another.

Part II

In Defense of the Detransitioner: Dissenters of the Transgender Revolution Confront the Worldview of Progressive Secularism

But next I want to turn to yesterday’s addition to The Los Angeles Times, an article by columnist Michael Hiltzik. It’s entitled What Her Detransitioner Suit Is Really About. Now, this should have our attention because detransitioner is put in scare quotes in journalism as a way of saying we don’t believe this is a real thing, but nonetheless, it’s being discussed in the public.

In this case, the article begins, “California teenager, Chloe Cole, has become something of a star in the movement to deny treatments to transgender youth.” She’s given testimony or made public statements in support of anti-treatment bills in Florida, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Idaho, and North Dakota. She’s appeared on Fox News and shared a Washington platform with, as mentioned, politicians here.

The article continues, “That’s useful for you to know in assessing Cole’s latest moment in the spotlight, her filing of a lawsuit against the giant Kaiser Permanente healthcare system.” So I just want you to note, this is a columnist. This is not presented as a news report, and so you shouldn’t take it as one. And this isn’t even just editorializing in the news. This is something of an editorial piece. It’s listed as a perspective article, but we need to note just how amazing this article is in pointing to one of the major fault lines in our culture.

And that has to do with the T in LGBTQ. Now, we as Christians understand number one, we’re talking about human beings made in the image of God, priceless of infinite value. And we’re also not talking from a perspective in which we’re smarter than anyone else. We are dependent upon God’s revelation. And God has revealed his understanding, his intention, his glory in both biological sex and in Scripture. That is to say in the creation order, that’s also divine revelation, but specifically in the holy Scriptures where in the very first chapter of the Bible, we are told male and female created he them.

But this is an article that also tells us something else about how the dominant media class looks at those who won’t go along with the revolution. You’ll notice that lead sentence. I go back, “California teenager, Chloe Cole, has become something of a star in the movement,” and the next words are crucial, “to deny treatments to transgender youth.”

So you’ll notice this is loaded from the beginning. Now you have a young person who is identified as opposing and wanting to deny “treatments to transgender youth.” Couple things going on there that’s journalistic loading and we at least ought to call it out. And Christians listening to and watching the cultural conversation need to understand when that kind of moral loading takes place. If you control the language, if you control the rhetoric, you can control the society because in this case, it doesn’t say that this young person is raising issues about how different understandings of transgender are to be adjudicated and evaluated in the public square. No, it’s deny medical treatment. And that’s a very different kind of argument. That’s a part of what we see happening in our society right now. Everything that has to do with the LGBTQ movement and all that will follow, it is politicized. It is also medicalized.

And so it’s a matter of denying medical treatment. Okay, hold that just a moment. That’s exactly what takes place in the abortion controversy where denying women healthcare is the euphemism for abortion. And so you’ll notice we live in a medicalized society. We live in a society where there is a prejudice towards people accessing medical care. And so you can bring about a moral revolution even in questions of gender and even including the termination of unborn human life if you can reclassify it as medical care and then say that if you are opposed to that medical care, you’re trying to deny people access to medical care. Now, there’s far more in this article. For one thing, you have a very clear statement in The Los Angeles Times against detransitioning, which tells us something else. The progressivist worldview, the secular worldview, it is increasingly clear that an incredible number of Americans, a large percentage of our population really does now see history just as an arrow pointing towards the future.

And that’s increasingly defined as a moral future. And the word progressive is not accidental. Progressive indicates progression. What comes later is better than what came before. And so making progress morally is better than not making progress morally. And in this case, if you can package something like LGBTQ or for that matter, abortion is moral progress, well then you won an awful lot of the argument where these arguments are one and lost on the cultural terrain. But in this case, you have this writer saying that detransitioning isn’t even real. It’s not real. Here you have a young person, and this is the very, very important part of this article. I mentioned the Arizona Republic article with a rare statement of candor. This particular article also has a very rare disclosure about the treatments that are being now directed towards children and teenagers. We’re told on this article that most of these treatments and especially surgical treatments are only rarely used on children and teenagers.

And this is at least part of what we now know is the misrepresentation. If you use the word never, it means never. If you don’t use the word never, you don’t mean never. If it’s not never, that means there are circumstances in which it is argued such treatments are appropriate for children and for teenagers. Now, I mentioned when it came to educators what it means for this to be redefined in professional terms with professionalism becoming the authority. Well, listen to this, “Gender dysphoria diagnosis is neither novel nor a fad as some critics assert. Instead, it is recognized by,” wait for it, “professionals as a serious medical condition.” The article continues, “Gender-affirming care and treatment for gender dysphoria has been provided in the United States for decades.” And by the way, for decades, is that supposed to be of earth-Shaking historical significance? For decades isn’t very long given the very long story of human history.

As a matter of fact, it reminds me of what came up with same-sex marriage when Justice Samuel Alito in the oral arguments for the Obergefell case held up a smartphone and said, “Whatever same-sex marriage is, it’s more recent than this.” That was a point that seemed to be missed on at least many of his colleagues. Nonetheless, here you have an article that is clearly pushing back on anyone who dares to push back on the transgender ideology. It’s a massive article. It’s a full half page in the print edition.

And you’ll also notice that once again, it is presented in breathtakingly moral term. Remember, the young person’s name, last name is Cole: “Cole’s narrative is peopled with physicians and psychologists heartlessly and casually breaching their professional responsibilities.” This is something else Christians have to watch. We are now observing the closing of the professional ranks in such a way that it is increasingly doubtful that many young Christians are going to be able to enter many of these professions so long as they hold the Christian convictions on any number of things.

And those who are pressing these agendas understand full well that if they can control the professional schools and if they can write the professional codes of conduct, and if they are in control of the professional societies, then they can bring an entire revolution in society. And by the way, that doesn’t even yet involve politics, politicians, congress or the presidency. It has a lot to do with the fact that the real moral significance on the ground is often actually revealed in something like the professions rather than in politics.

That doesn’t mean politics isn’t important. We began with a political story from Phoenix, Arizona, but it is a reminder of the fact that as you look at many of these big changes in society, Christians need to understand that what we are witnessing right now is a massive turning point in human history. And that turning point is faster and slower in different sectors of the society.

And for that matter, it’s not evenly distributed geographically, which takes me back to red and blue America and to the increasing fight over what’s often described as purple America. And in this case, I’m not even just referring to politics. In moral terms and cultural terms, much of America is contested terrain. And here’s where we also have to note that even in a state that’s solidly red or a state that’s solidly blue, there are outlier communities. And all you have to say in order to remind yourself of what that looks like is Austin, Texas, red state, blue city. And so looking at these issues, it’s not enough to say, well, there’s the state border. You’ve got to look at what’s actually happening on the ground.

Part III

The New Age Candidate with a Department of Peace?: Marianne Williamson to Run in 2024 Democratic Presidential Race

But finally today as we’re talking about politics, the political candidates are lining up and that includes candidates for the presidency.

And one of them who ran back in 2000 has announced she’s running again, might not have made the front page of your local newspaper, but it did make the inside pages of The New York Times Maggie Astor reporting that Marianne Williamson, “The self-help author and spiritual advisor who ran unsuccessfully for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination will run again in 2024. She told supporters this weekend.” Okay, this is one of those stories that I just find absolutely fascinating. This is someone who actually didn’t make it into much of the voting in 2020, and of course she was running for the Democratic presidential nomination and the Democratic parties in the rather awkward position of having an incumbent president, which makes it something like treason to have someone saying that they’re going to be running in the primary against him. But Marianne Williamson is someone that I have followed ever since the 1980s or so where she was one of the most famous new age authors in the United States.

Worldview matters, it matters in politics. It sure matters when you have a new age guru running for president because she really wants to replace the Pentagon with what she called the Department of Peace. As The New York Times reminds us, “Ms. Williamson, age 70, became famous within the self-help world as an author of several bestselling books and a spiritual advisor to Oprah Winfrey.” In the 1980s, she founded the Los Angeles and Manhattan Centers for Living and were also told that she has been supportive of so many different things. She gives her political pronouncements. She has diagnosed the United States as being sick psychologically and spiritually. By the way, we don’t exactly argue with her about that. But nonetheless, it’s just interesting to note that the clash of worldviews is rarely so demonstrated in politics as when the spiritual advisor to Oprah announces she’s running for president of the United States.

Now, here’s something else. It’s unlikely that Marianne Williamson is going to get much further in 2024 than she got in 2020. But that’s also where I want Christians to understand that’s not the point. That’s actually not the point. She knows she’s not going to be elected president of the United States. So why is she declaring herself a candidate for the office? Well, so that she’ll be talked about, and yes, I fell for it. I’m talking about her today. But it’s because I think there’s worldview significance in this story, and it’s a reminder to us that there is worldview significance. There’s even spiritual perspective, spiritual commitment background to every candidate and to every candidacy. Marianne Williamson is just singled out by the press because she is so overtly by her own description, basically a new age guru. And she’s selling something is the implication. But understand, in a fallen world, Christians know this.

Every candidate is selling something. The question is what are they selling and whether or not it should be bought? And this helps us to remember that there’s a clash of worldviews all the time. Rarely, let’s admit, quite so graphic as in the case of the spiritual advisor to Oprah running for president of the United States intending to create a department of peace that’s a little over the edge, even for most of those who will be declared candidates in 2024. But as for the clash of worldviews, it’s everywhere all the time and we’ll end today by saying we had one witness to that who knows exactly what we’re talking about, Marianne Williamson.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can find me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

I’m speaking to you before a live audience in Phoenix, Arizona, and I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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